FOR IMMEDIATE RELEASE
Wednesday, May 22, 2019
Report available at: tripnet.org
NORTH DAKOTA’S RURAL BRIDGES AMONG MOST DETERIORATED IN U.S.; REPAIRS & MODERNIZATION NEEDED TO IMPROVE CONDITIONS, BOOST SAFETY & SUPPORT GROWTH & CONNECTIVITY
Eds: This report contains data for all 50 states for the percentage of rural roads in poor condition, the percent of deficient rural bridges, rural traffic fatality rates and the number of rural traffic fatalities. Click here for infographics.
Washington, D.C. – America’s rural transportation system is in need of repairs and modernization to support economic growth in the nation’s Heartland, which is a critical source of energy, food and fiber. With increases in population and growing employment, rural America is heavily reliant on the quality of its transportation system to sustain further growth. This is according to a new report released today by TRIP, a national transportation research nonprofit. The report, Rural Connections: Challenges and Opportunities in America’s Heartland, evaluates the safety and condition of the nation’s rural roads and bridges and finds that the nation’s rural transportation system is in need of immediate improvements to address deficient roads and bridges, high crash rates, and inadequate connectivity and capacity. The chart below shows the states with the highest rate of rural pavements in poor condition, states with the highest share of rural bridges that are rated poor/structurally deficient, and states with the highest fatality rates on non-Interstate, rural roads.
|State||Rural Pavements in Poor Condition||State||Rural Bridges Poor/Structurally Deficient||State||Fatality Rate per 100M VMT on Rural Non-Interstate Roads||Fatality Rate per 100M VMT on All Other Roads|
|1||Rhode Island||39%||Rhode Island||23%||South Carolina||3.60||0.98|
|3||New Mexico||30%||West Virginia||20%||Arizona||2.94||1.31|
|4||West Virginia||30%||Pennsylvania||18%||Rhode Island||2.57||0.92|
|5||Hawaii||30%||South Dakota||18%||West Virginia||2.55||0.97|
|US AVERAGE||15%||US AVERAGE||9%||US AVERAGE||2.14||0.88|
Eleven percent of North Dakota’s rural bridges are rated as poor/structurally deficient, the 12th highest share in the U.S. Bridges that are poor/structurally deficient have significant deterioration to the major components of the bridge and are often posted for lower weight or closed to traffic, restricting or redirecting large vehicles, including agricultural equipment, commercial trucks, school buses and emergency services vehicles. The report finds that 19 percent of North Dakota’s rural roads are rated in poor or mediocre condition. The rate of traffic fatalities on North Dakota’s non-Interstate, rural roads is nearly four-and-a-half times higher than the fatality rate on all other roads in the state – 1.83 fatalities per 100 million vehicle miles of travel vs. 0.42.
“The TRIP report demonstrates the need for increased and continued investment in North Dakota’s transportation system, particularly our network of rural roads and bridges, which provide a vital link for the state’s agricultural, energy extraction and tourism sectors and keep our economy moving in the right direction,” said Arik Spencer, president and CEO of the North Dakota Chamber of Commerce.
“Rural roads play a critical role in supporting the transportation needs of North Dakotans every day,” said Gene LaDoucer, North Dakota spokesman for AAA-The Auto Club Group. “Damaged and structurally deficient bridges and deteriorating roadways impact everyone, and it’s time to focus on these critical needs. Making the necessary improvements to rural roads and bridges will help move our economy forward and save lives.”
America’s rural transportation system provides the first and last link in the supply chain from farm to market, connects manufacturers to their customers, supports the tourism industry, and enables the production of energy, food and fiber. Rural Americans are more reliant on the quality of their transportation system than their urban counterparts.
“This report highlights again the critical need for federal action to modernize our nation’s infrastructure,” said Ed Mortimer, vice president of transportation infrastructure of the U.S. Chamber of Commerce. “We have a historic opportunity to address many rural infrastructure needs with President Trump and Congress discussing a major infrastructure bill. Let’s hope they act to address this critical issue!”
The TRIP report finds that the U.S. needs to implement transportation improvements that will improve rural transportation connectivity, safety and conditions to provide the nation’s small communities and rural areas with safe and efficient access to support quality of life and enhance economic productivity.
“Farmers and ranchers depend on rural roads, highways and bridges for daily life and to move their products to market,” said Zippy Duvall, president of the American Farm Bureau Federation. “Securing the appropriate resources at the local, state and federal levels will allow for the improvements needed to provide a rural transportation system that will keep goods moving, American agriculture competitive and rural Americans safe.”
“The health of the nation’s economy and the safety and quality of life in America’s small communities and rural areas ride on our rural transportation system. Our rural roads and bridges provide crucial links from farm to market, move manufactured and energy products, and provide access to countless tourism, social and recreational destinations,” said Will Wilkins, executive director of TRIP. “Fixing the federal Highway Trust Fund with a long-term, sustainable source of revenue that supports the transportation investment needed will be crucial to the modernization of our rural transportation system.”